The perfect match
Whether it’s a World Cup final or Sunday morning kickabout, football permeates our culture. Matthew Bowen finds out how the founders of Football Lodge want to harness this power to breathe new life into Freemasonry
Looking out over the pitch from the hospitality box in a football stadium, you can feel the theatre of what happens on the pitch and in the stands. There won’t be another match until next weekend, but echoes of last Saturday’s chants still linger in the air. The empty ground exudes a sense of limitless potential, much like Football Lodge, No. 9921, which is engaging at a grass-roots level to bring Freemasonry into their community.
Surveying the ground, Lodge founder and Primus Master, David Lallana (Liverpool and England player Adam Lallana’s father), explains the thinking behind forming the lodge. ‘The ‘F’ word was very important to us when we launched the lodge,’ he says. He’s not talking about Freemasonry, or football, but ‘fun’.
Football Lodge’s quirky take on masonic ritual made headlines after featuring in Sky’s Inside the Freemasons documentary. Members enter the lodge to the sound of the Match of the Day theme tune and can receive a card (yellow or red, depending on severity) for social faux pas. But there’s method to the madness.
‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings,’ says Lodge Secretary Bill Starkey, who’s joined David in the hospitality box. ‘Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading.’ More than 280 guests attended the lodge’s consecration, and meetings regularly attract 100-plus members, who travel to Botley in Hampshire from as far away as Devon.
FOSTERING A TEAM SPIRIT
The popularity of the lodge is no doubt helped by its high-profile members, among whom is former England player and current Birmingham City coach James Beattie. Stars such as this may make the headlines, but the lodge uses its popularity to support the Province’s football community from the ground up. In its first year, Football Lodge granted £100-£150 to each club in the Mid-Solent Youth League to assist with forming under-nine’s teams. They also provided a new kit for Hamble United FC – with a square and compass logo on the breast – after a fire devastated their ground.
‘We’re proud of our community work and it’s a two-way street,’ says Worshipful Master Leon Whitfield. ‘Some people still see Freemasonry as elitist, but at Football Lodge, we’re just another team.’
To strengthen its presence within the community, the members understand that they now have a responsibility to convert the initial excitement into a lifelong commitment to Freemasonry as they guide the light blues through the ranks. David Lallana is on a mission to take Freemasonry into the 21st century – but he knows he can’t do this without bringing on the next generation.
‘We stick to the tenets, but see no point in suffering through meetings. Visitors to the lodge enjoy themselves, and the word is spreading’
MORE MEMBERS WITH EVERY MEETING
Ahead of each Installation meeting, the Loos Football, which was kicked across no man’s land by British soldiers towards German trenches in 1915 during the Battle of Loos, is transported down to the masonic hall by the Royal Irish Regiment. It sits on a pedestal on one side of the Worshipful Master. On the other side sits an identical football to the one used in the current Premier League season.
‘As experienced masons, we have a responsibility to create a pathway for junior brethren to take the Chair of King Solomon,’ says David. ‘We hope people aspire to our position, but it’s not about looking up to us, it’s about the future of Freemasonry.’ The lodge has initiated new members at every meeting so far as it looks to build the perfect team who can take it to the next level.
Newly initiated members include referees, semi-professional managers and ex-players, including Richard Appleton, who is an Academy scout for Portsmouth FC. For Richard, Freemasonry has echoes of the team environment he enjoyed when playing high-level football, but it goes beyond that. ‘Football Lodge has changed my perspective on Freemasonry,’ he says. ‘I thought it was a bit stuffy to begin with, but I enjoy the history. I like to get involved in all the parts in the Temple, and think it’s making me a better person’.
In order to achieve their goals, the founding members know they have to be sympathetic to the time limitations of younger men. ‘We’re very careful to not impinge on anyone’s lives,’ says Leon. ‘If you’ve got time, let us know. If you don’t, sit back, enjoy the meetings and relax. Not every member can make the same commitment, and we fully respect that.’
In addition to being professionally involved with football, Richard also works 14-hour days in construction, commuting to London most days from his home in Portsmouth. ‘I don’t find it easy to commit, but I believe that if you love something you make it work. I’m excited by the challenge of taking on what these guys have started and, along with the other light blues, carrying on our traditions and maintaining the buzz that surrounds the lodge.’
NEW SET OF GOALS
It’s clear something special is going on at Football Lodge. Their formula works, but they’re not resting on their laurels. ‘We see the lodge like a football club,’ says Leon. ‘When a club finds success, the hardest thing to do is maintain it.’ He’s keen to form affinities with other lodges to sustain this momentum. Farming out passing and raising ceremonies to other lodges in the Province that are struggling with attendance creates a buzz and, more importantly, an ‘interaction between a wider circle of brethren’.
If the growth continues, Football Lodge may become just the first in a line of football lodges around the country. ‘People are looking at what we’re doing here,’ says David, who is keen to share the lessons he’s learned, not only with others looking to set up similar lodges, but with Freemasonry as a whole. ‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy.’
‘We’ve adopted a young way of thinking to attract younger members. First and foremost, we want to create something that people enjoy’
Watch unique and unprecedented access to the Freemasons
To mark the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary, a Sky television crew were given unique and unprecedented access to discover what it means to be a modern-day Freemason
The five part documentary they made looked to go beyond the myth and legend to discover what it means to be a Freemason today and answer the questions – who are Freemasons and what do they do?
From our regalia to some lavish ceremonies, through to ancient rituals and bonds of brotherhood, many viewers will recently have had the pleasure of watching the documentary ‘Inside the Freemasons’.
There were many behind the scenes highlights to enjoy including coverage of the biggest day of the masonic calendar, the Annual Investiture, and the official consecration of the first masonic football lodge, as well as a feature with UGLE’s newly appointed Chief Executive Officer, Doctor David Staples, FRCP, DepGDC.
Although the documentary was recently shown on Sky 1, if you missed it, fear not, as a special edition on DVD is now available to pre-order: it consists of two DVDs, featuring all five episodes and 30 minutes of exclusive extra content.
The ‘Inside the Freemasons’ DVD will be released by June 15th and is now available to pre-order from Letchworths Shop by clicking here
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
9 March 2016
The minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 9 December 2015 were approved.
HRH The Duke of Kent was unanimously re-elected Grand Master.
Report of the Board of General Purposes
Grand Lodge Register 2006-2015
Charges for Warrants
The Board recommended that for the year commencing 1 April 2016 the charges (exclusive of VAT) shall be: Warrant for a new lodge £375; Warrant of Confirmation £980; Warrant for a Centenary Jewel £575; Warrant of Confirmation for a Centenary Jewel £835; Warrant for a Bi-Centenary Bar £885; Warrant of Confirmation for a Bi-Centenary Bar £885; Certificate of Amalgamation £100; Enfacement (Alterations) Fee £135.
The Board had received a report that Woodend Lodge No. 5302 had surrendered its warrant and wished to amalgamate with Liverpool Epworth Lodge No. 5381 (West Lancashire). A resolution from the Board that the lodge be removed from the register in order to amalgamate was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that the following 12 lodges had closed and surrendered their warrants: Baildon Lodge No. 1545 (Yorkshire, West Riding), Regent Lodge No. 2856 (Yorkshire, West Riding), Summum Bonum Lodge No. 3665 (Middlesex), Fortitude Lodge No. 4017 (Northumberland), Kinder Scout Lodge No. 4532 (Derbyshire), Opthalmos Lodge No. 4633 (London), Court Mead Lodge No. 4669 (London), Loyalty United Lodge No. 4931 (London), Amicitia Lodge No. 5114 (Middlesex), Aberconwy Lodge No. 5996 (North Wales), Kenyngton Manor Lodge No. 7488 (Middlesex) and United Fairway Lodge No. 9094 (Essex).
Expulsions from the Craft
Eleven brethren were expelled from the Craft on 30 August 2015.
The following is a list for which new warrants have been granted and the dates from which their warrants became effective:
11 November 2015
Music Lodge No. 9919 (South Wales)
Hoose Lodge No. 9920 (Cheshire)
Football Lodge No. 9921 (Hampshire & Isle of Wight)
Spirit of Rugby Lodge No. 9922 (East Kent)
Keystone Centenary Lodge No. 9923 (Nigeria)
Udokanma Lodge No. 9924 (Nigeria).
The Masonic Charitable Foundation
Meetings of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
Meetings will be held on 27 April 2016 (Annual Investiture), 8 June 2016, 14 September 2016, 14 December 2016, 8 March 2017 and 14 June 2017.
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter
Meetings will be held on 28 April 2016, 9 November 2016 and 27 April 2017.